Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

A Digital Single Market by 2015 - a driver for economic growth and jobs

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 --- Posted by Jørgen Abild Andersen, Director General Telecoms, Danish Business Authority.

In these days of uncertainty, where everyone is worried about the economy and the future, constructive answers and solutions that can spark off economic growth and create new jobs in Europe are in great demand.

I see a digital way forward and out of the European crisis. I believe that creating a Digital Single Market in the EU is not only a prerequisite for sustainable growth, but holds a promising prospect for economic growth and jobs in Europe.

I am not alone in believing in the potential of a Digital Single Market. The European Heads of State have on several occasions stated that Europe must have a well-functioning Digital Single Market in place by 2015 in order to generate new economic growth. And last week in Copenhagen, a successful informal Competitiveness Council was held on the topic.We need to overcome a number of barriers to achieve our goal of a European Digital Single Market. The technological solutions and the great ideas are already here. But making them work together and implementing them across boarders is the challenge we face today.

  • How can we ensure that everyone in Europe have high speed access to quality online content everywhere, on any device at any time?
  • How can we supply the best possible framework conditions for European business’ to embrace the digital potential?
  • How can we increase trust in the digital universe both for businesses and consumers?
  • How can we tap into the enormous potential of big data, and use it to fuel the digital growth engine?
In other words, how can we create a truly Digital Single Market modelled on the single market that celebrates its 20 year Anniversary in 2012?

To answer these questions, some of the most important European stakeholders from governments, business, academia, organisations and the European Institutions will meet at a High Level Conference in Copenhagen on 27-28 February, 2012. The conference is organised by the Danish Presidency and the European Commission. We will engage all the participants in a lively discussion on the challenges and opportunities of creating a fully fledged Digital Single Market.

I look forward to hearing the views of prominent speakers such as former Prime Minister of Finland, Esko Aho, UK Minister Ed Vaizey, not to mention the co-author of the WEF Global Information Technology Report, Bruno Lanvin, and our own Minister for Business and Growth, Ole Sohn.

If you are unable to join us in Copenhagen, you will have ample opportunity to follow our efforts and voice your opinion online before, during and after the conference on twitter #dsm12, live webstream and here on the Digital Agenda blog.

Comments

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thanks Jorgen for this on-line warm-up for another DK Presidency led event! In the Commission, we have a very clear priority from last week's euroepan Council: prioritise whatever we can offer from EU-wide action to improve job prospects for younger people expecially, in the coming months not years. the scope for bottom-up small endeavours to grow fast over the Internet is proven everywhere:. Just one example: direct selling and small service providers locally can offer thanks to Internet a better faster service, better managed and networked, than was possible in the 'old days' of 'mail order' and coffee mornings organised in person or by phone. that sort of start-up won't need ultra-fast connections, but others veru surely will. So will the carers who can check in on Grandma several times a day, even if they can visit in person only once or twice. So will those of us who long for a world where we can avoid the administration's queuing systems by online e-government. So we're working on better faster invesment plans for broadband, as well as pushing for better government service provision over that network, for ease of copyright use (more royalties and more benefits)...I am sure that the coming event will give us some strong leads as to what needs doing first!
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The conference website is up and running - www.dsm2012.dk.
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Dear Henrik Kjaer, Thanks a lot for sharing this additional information!
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Will definitely look at the conference web site!
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Just like Jorgen Abild, many of us believe that “creating a Digital Single Market in the EU is not only a prerequisite for sustainable growth, but holds a promising prospect for economic growth and jobs in Europe.” Is it enough to believe? How can we transform our beliefs in facts that will support our convictions?   Digital Single Market vs Single Market?   In words of Fabian Zuleeg, Chief Economist at the European Policy Centre, “Creating a DSM can offer a structural solution to raise long-term growth and employment in the coming decade and provide a means of delivering the ambitions of Europe 2020”. In one of its latest report, the EPC estimate that “at least 4 percent additional GDP (EU27) can be gained in the longer run by stimulating further adoption of ICT and digital services through the creation of a DSM”. David Lidington in his blog writes: “The economic benefits accrued across the EU, once all these measures have been implemented will be significant. Consumers will have more choice, competition will increase and prices will fall. Businesses will have a larger consumer base to target, sell more and increase revenue.” So what are you waiting for? Is it, as Jorgen Abild says, a problem of implementation which means that we should take for given the political willingness or is it a problem of European governance and alignment of policies?   I think that Jorgen’s question addressing a “truly DSM modelled on the single market” is a central one: “how can we create a truly Digital Single Market modelled on the single market that celebrates its 20 year Anniversary in 2012?” Does it make sense to make a difference between the SM and the DSM? Shouldn’t it be a priority to change and enrich the definition of the SM to give a strong political signal to the European society? If we try a definition inspired from the original one, “the Single Market would be an internal market characterized by the abolition, as between Member States, of physical and online obstacles to the free movement of goods, persons, services, capital, information and knowledge.”   Fully-fledged DSM vs. vibrant DSM The upcoming conference that starts this Monday makes a pledge for creating a fully-fledged European Digital Single Market, i.e. developed or matured to the fullest degree. It is interesting to compare this goal with the first action area of the DAE that calls for ”a vibrant digital single market” i.e. vigorous, lively, and vital but also “characterized by rapid, rhythmic movement back and forth”. Are both terms compatible? This question goes beyond pure semantic. The DSM is a vibrant place and may be never matured to the fullest degree. On this ever changing place, regulations, norms… are likely to be obsolete very quickly and contradictions arise. The debate on Production and exchange of online content that will be addressed during a thematic session on day 1 is a good illustration of a potential contradiction. There is a need on the one hand to regulate the exchange of online content. On the other hand fragmented regulations due to a lack of European governance or political willingness represent a major impediment to the exchange process. Christian Engström, Member of the European Parliament for Piratpartiet, Sweden reminds us for instance that “Apple iTunes store is not available in every EU country because many countries do not offer a large enough marketplace to justify the expense and effort required to sell in that country. Since it cannot obtain the rights in the sound recordings and the global repertoire of musical works on a pan-EU basis, iTunes has to examine the situation in each country individually to determine whether the benefits are likely to outweigh the costs of distributing content into that country.”   The 2012 edition of the World Mobile Congress  that will also start on Monday in Barcelona brings other contradictions. The GSMA recalls that “mobile operators are forerunners in offering innovative content services in Europe and aim to provide a much wider range of services to satisfy growing consumer demand. A good example is the growth of small, entrepreneurial businesses brought by mobile applications (or “apps”).” It is also true as recalled by the EPC that the absence of price convergence within the digital sector, with mobile communication prices varying on a scale from one to five from lowest (Denmark) to highest (Spain) or the fact that in the last decade, no EU equivalent of Google has emerged are symptomatic of the lack of a DSM. How can we encourage entrepreneurship and at the same time impede entrepreneurship because of higher or fragmented costs?   Digital natives vs. jobless natives On day 2 a plenary session will focus on the role ICT and smart digital solutions can play “in the transformation of the European economy towards sustainable growth and job creation.” Young people will certainly be one of the key targets of this session. The DAE insists on the potential of the younger generation that will be entering the job market over the next ten years and will have been brought up with digital technologies as a natural aspect of their lives. Is it enough? These ”digital natives” are also brought up with the reality of massive unemployment. How come a digital native can be unemployed on a digitalized single market. What are the aspects of the single market – beyond its digital features – that don’t work? Don’t we expect too much of ICT when other obstacles are to be overcome? Robert Madelin recalls in his post on this blog that the priority is to“improve job prospects for younger people expecially, in the coming months not years.” This means addressing also the job market in a “vibrant way”. It is an exciting task where we should all collaborate to revert the current trends. The labour reform decided in Spain a few weeks ago and aiming at boosting the job market doesn’t mention more flexible working and new technologies as an option for jobs creation. The candidates for the French Presidency don’t mention ICT as a driver for growth and jobs. Two examples that demonstrate the urgency to work also on the awareness side despite the “informal” political consensus.   Competences and values Addressing the transformation that implies the digitalization of the Single Market requires an in depth transformation that goes beyond technical and legal aspects. Highlighting the importance of information and knowledge as key drivers for growth would help put the emphasis not only on high speed access, quality content, multiple devices, big data… but also on education, training and the key competences and values that are required to develop a successful life in a connected world. While talking of values, another feature of the World Mobile Congress - that should be a paradigm of the DSM - is worth observing. Out of the 30 confirmed keynote speakers at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, 29 are men.   As Nelly Kroes said in her blog: ” I continue to find it troubling that women are under-represented in the ICT sector at every level, and particularly in decision-making positions. And the situation doesn’t seem to be getting better.” The DSM is also about gender and social inclusion, competences and social values!